Somehow, someway, Valley Christian dethroned returning State 1B champion Sunnyside Christian on its way to the semifinals.
Fellow Bi-County League team Almira/Coulee-Hartline joined them.
Despite a second half to forget, VC’s Panthers (22-2) won 47-40. The Warriors (20-6) dug themselves from 10-point hole and topped Moses Lake Christian 50-38.
It took a nearly flawless first half by Valley Christian and a huge 3-pointer by Noah McConahy with 3 minutes remaining for the Panthers to survive.
“I was joking that I had Mothra (the horror film creature) in my stomach,” VC coach Chad Kimberley said after his team survived a major second-half shooting drought. “I wanted to win for the seniors.”
Until this year those seniors had won a total of four games.
The Panthers never trailed after a textbook first half led to a 33-22 lead.
Their defensive scheme was brilliant in neutralizing the two players who provide the bulk of Sunnyside’s scoring. They double-teamed scoring leader Drew Wagenaar, shutting him out in the half, and fronted 6-foot-7 Brandon Broersma with back-side help. He finished the half with four points.
Meanwhile, the Panthers shot 50 percent, scored in transition, outrebounded their foe by seven and scored the first 11 points of the second quarter to build a 14-point lead.
Then their game went AWOL. Countless missed inside shots enabled Sunnyside Christian to close to within a point early in the fourth quarter. With 3:12 left and the score 42-40, McConahy asked for the ball and buried his 3-pointer – the second of just three second-half Valley Christian baskets. He also scored the third with a minute to go.
“I really wanted the ball,” McConahy said. “We were up by two and I told myself to take over.”
He was also part of the defense on Wagenaar, limiting the 21.4-points-per-game scorer to four.
McConahy lauded his coaches for an excellent game plan.
“They executed it perfectly in the first half,” Kimberley said. “Our plan was to make the other guys beat us. (McConahy’s) shot was huge. We had lost all momentum and he did what seniors do.”
Valley Christian plays Neah Bay today at 3:45 p.m. at the Arena. ACH meets King’s Way Christian at 5:30.